Zeeland

Throwback to the May break: This was my first trip to Zeeland. I have been living in the Netherlands for 11 years and this was the first time I made it to this province. The views were breathtaking in Domburg. We survived a rainy three night stay at a run down Roompot there with our friends. The kids loved being all together.

The first half day it rained hard. We camped out at a lovely hotel cafe for 2+ hours. The kids were fine. You could feel the simple joy of being at cafe. People were happy just to be out and about. Eating at a restaurant now is like a luxury. The evenings blessed us with beautiful sunsets and dry weather. We would order dinner (complete with a bottle of white wine) and eat at the beach, eat, and watch the kids run in and out of the waves.

Flora was untamed. She was wild on the beach. Running in and out of the waves with her clothes on and then her underwear. Dancing in the sand with her friends. Just watching you run up and down the beach shouting with joy was the best moment of this trip. It’s amazing the power that nature can bring. Some fresh sea air, the sand in your toes, and sunshine is so therapeutic. It was a great trip.

Chilling in Amsterdam

Three days and nights in a quiet Amsterdam. We spent six nights away for a week of the May break. The original camping plan got canceled due to crappy weather. We opted for a little city time in my favorite place in the Netherlands. Amsterdam did not feel the same. There was this relaxed, chill, quiet vibe throughout the neighborhoods and parks we explored. No tourists, no crowds, museums are closed, and not much to do, but sit on a terras and enjoy a good lunch or a beer. We had a fabulous time.

Flora is a strong biker. Thibault the artist who creates these amazing works while we sit at a terras. It was heavenly. I hope that business life, financial success, arts and culture return to this beautiful place. For now, I will cherish these quiet moments with my family exploring the Haarlemmerdijk neighborhood (my new favorite place to stay), Westerpark, scones at the Bakkerswinkel, morning runs, towering canal houses, beers on tap in the sunshine, and relaxed parks. What a great three nights together.

Sallandse Heuvelrug & Deventer 2020

I just love this view. This is the Dutch landscape. Overijssel and the Sallandse Heuvelrug is my new favorite area. This national park has so many beautiful spots. Our Landal park was cute. We made the best of it. Rented some bikes, drank gluhwein on the playground while the kids played, the kids got to roast some marshmallows at the tipi, and hiked. I’m happy we decided to go ahead with the trip. Even though the pool was closed, it was good to have a change of scenery.

We took an evening walk in Deventer. It was actually my favorite day of the trip. A refreshing walk in nature in the national park (preceeded by a lot of complaining and crying–of course), cold fresh air, beautiful scenery, a cozy movie afternoon by the fire with coffee, followed by this evening stroll in Deventer, and a late dinner. It was such a fantastic day. I loved it. I have wanted to go to Deventer for some time now. Such a beautiful place. Lots of independent shops (two bookstores!), little eateries and tea rooms, tiny, quiet streets. It was beautiful. We will return sometime when life goes back to normal.

Some moments of our evening walk with all the Kerst lampjes.

Camping in Overijssel & Hoge Veluwe

 

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de Lemeler Esch campground in Lemele

Since the pandemic has cancelled our summer plans for traveling in the U.S. (camping in Maine, going to Canada, and seeing family and friends) we decided to explore the Netherlands instead. Staying safe, traveling responsibly, and keeping in line with the recommendations from the Dutch government was important to us. After looking at tons of different vacations in NL we decided to take two separate breaks. We just came back from our first “vacay” with eight nights camping in a tent. It reminded me of my childhood summers with my family.

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We spent the first four nights in de Lemeler Esch at a beautiful “natuur camping” in Overijssel. We had some sun, some rain, fun in the pool, local ice cream from a dairy farm, hikes in the woods, many hours at the multiple playgrounds, and tons of fun! We all took on some nicknames during this trip. The Jaap (the Kampeer Meneer) held everything together taking care of us along the way, Thibault (the Camp Champ), Flora (the Early Girl), and for lack of creativity myself (the Kampeer Mevrouw).

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I will fondly remember this beautiful hike to the thee huisje in de Lemelerberg where we came upon this incredible speelbos. Huge pine trees, hammocks, tree houses, ropes, etc. It was a beautiful playground in nature. Since it took the kids almost two hours to walk there, we decided one of use should go and pick up the car. I had a 30 minute walk in the woods by myself. It was heavenly!

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We swam in the “heated” pool, ate ice cream every day, got dirty, survived the rain, and had a blast. My absolute favorite quote of the entire trip was when Thibault woke up on the second day (after a long night’s sleep), unzipped the tent, poked his head out and said, “I love this place.” Thibault was the Camp Champ. He was born to spend the majority of his life outdoors, picking flowers, and sleeping in nature. Sitting in sand, picking leaves off branches in the campsite, picking flowers and making stunning bouquets. This is his life and he was in his element.

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At the Landal Park in the Hoge Veluwe life got a little bit easier. We met up with friends, everyone had a playmate, the campground had a lot of built in activities, a good market to shop at, and it felt a little bit more luxurious. Our site was a lot bigger and we were pleasantly surprised with the campground. We had lots of trees and more space. I can’t say that the whole campground was the same, but I thought our section was again, the best in the campground.

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I kept hearing the words of my father throughout the entire week. I can remember these things he would say while we were camping and his spirit was everywhere. Memories of my sister and I fetching the water, making sure we are all properly dressed, applying bug spray, tips for the rain, how to keep things dry in the tent, breakfast at the campground, etc. It makes me a little sad writing this because I miss him so much and it’s hard to think about when the next time I will see my parents. At the same time, I kept thinking how grateful I am that my parents took us camping. All children should be so lucky. There’s something so satisfying about being outdoors for an entire week. Sleeping outside made me physically feel so good. I also felt like Jaap and I were fulfilling a family tradition that’s important to me, so it was just a feel good trip.

DSC00197The thrill of roasting marshmallows (even if it has to be on a gas stove) is ageless. Who doesn’t love roasting marshmallows? Well, the tradition lives. Camping is a part of our family now for a few summers. I hope we can keep it going. My kids are nature lovers and I hope we can celebrate that every summer.

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More fun at the Openlucht Museum in Arnhem. What a great museum. I think we need two days to explore this place. We were only able to see half of it. The highlight for me was the live music session with traditional instruments from NL, Syria, and Europe. Thibault sat attentively the entire time. It was a great moment.

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Lauwersmeer Corona getaway

We have returned from a completely restorative weekend away. What was originally supposed to be a long holiday weekend with my mother at a bungalow near at Lauwersmeer National Park, turned out to be the same— just missing one of our favorite travel partners. 

I feel completely reset. I’m pretty good at keeping low expectations when we travel, but this time I felt like I started this 4 night mini-vacation with zero expectations and it turned out even better than I could have expected!

Rotterdam Girls Trip

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Flora and I had an amazing girls trip weekend to Rotterdam last week! What a modern and trendy place. I couldn’t believe how much there was to see and do. We had one night away from the boys (and Grandma) and two full days of good times!

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Flora posing at a Rotterdam icon

In no particular order, here are our highlights and memories.

Flora’s Faves:

The water taxi! By far the greatest part of this weekend was shooting around Rotterdam by water taxi. I will never forget the “taxi” driver and passenger laughing at how loud Flora and I were laughing. We were completely surprised by how fast the boat broke away from the harbor after crossing under the Erasmus bridge. It was hilarious.

 

Euromast. Checking out the views of the city on top of the Euromast and getting a better idea of how massive this port really is.

Sushi & dinner at Markhal with chopsticks for kids!

Lunch at the iconic Hotel New York another Rotterdam hot spot easily reached by water taxi, so we shot over there after our morning activity.

Maritime museum I must say. This place would have been heaven for Thibault. The top floor was all hands on for kids. Flora moved bags of rice with the crane for about 20 minutes. I saw other short toddlers moving “cargo boxes” the entire time. Thibault would have loved it and Flora did too.

Contemporary art on Witte de Withstraat I’m pretty sure Flora enjoyed this place more than I did. I was in love with her commentary and attention to detail while we walked through all of the exhibits.

Overall an incredible trip with my little lady. I love her curious mind, healthy appetite for Asian food :), and her traveling spirit. I can already see that she will be a traveler when she grows up. Walking through life now holding her hand as long as I can. XOXO.

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